Final vote of the Animal Health Law


FOUR PAWS welcomes this new legislation as a first step to establish EU mandatory identification and registration of companion animals

Brussels, 08.03.2016. On 8th March 2016, the Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on transmissible animal diseases and amending and repealing certain acts in the area of animal health (“Animal Health Law”) was voted in the European Parliament by a broad majority. The text initially introduced in 2013 by the European Commission, has undergone significant changes, and was massively commented for the absence of animal welfare provisions. In particular, FOUR PAWS initiated a campaign entitled “Wild? Me?” two years ago in order to change the critical definition contained in this legislation, which was aiming to consider domestic animals as wild animals when they have no owner or are abandoned.

Continue reading Final vote of the Animal Health Law


The EU Commission published its plans on global trade

The European Commission published a communication “Trade for all. Towards a more responsible trade and investment policy”, which presented the ongoing EU activities regarding trade globally. The communication is just a political document without any binding legal value. The main objectives of the European Commission regarding a responsible trade and investment policy included: gaining international markets, facilitating digital trade, promoting the EU’s best practices and standards internationally, eliminating non-tariff barriers and corruption. Additionally, the EU Commission is currently negotiating trade agreements with non-EU countries in order to have a more transparent trade policy based on the respect the environment, human rights and consumers protection.

Continue reading The EU Commission published its plans on global trade


Public survey on animal testing and the 3Rs

Following the European Commission's Communication published in response to the European Citizens' Initiative "Stop Vivisection", the JRC's Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM) has launched a public survey to solicit input from individuals and organisations to identify all types of knowledge sources that might be relevant for Replacing, Reducing or Refining (the '3Rs') the use of animals for scientific purposes.

More on


Practical EU guidelines to assess fitness of pigs for transport

Press Release:

European Commission welcomes practical EU guidelines to assess fitness of pigs for transport

Brussels, 21 January 2016

Practical EU guidelines to assess the fitness of pigs for transport, aiming to be an extra tool available to professionals to ensure a high level of fitness for transport of pigs, written by leading EU agri-food, veterinary, road transport, and animal welfare stakeholder groups, have been welcomed by the European Commission. The move comes after 2 years of work by the UECBV, Copa and Cogeca, Eurogroup for Animals, Animals’ Angels, FVE, IRU, ELT, INAPORC and Cooperl Arc Atlantique. “Whilst the role of European legislation is essential in setting out harmonised rules to protect the animals’ welfare, guidelines such as these which explain how these rules should be carried out in practice are crucial,” said Mr Gavinelli, Head of the Animal Welfare Unit of DG SANTE, speaking after the meeting. Continuing, he added that “these joint guidelines will help all those responsible to work together to ensure a high level of welfare of transported animals".

These guidelines are designed to provide easy to understand help and advice to professionals involved in the transportation of pigs and aim to complement existing EU legislation. The guidelines do not represent the real situation in Europe today, but provide a comprehensive list of situations that may occur and the conditions that may result in an animal being classed as unfit for transport to help operators ensure animal welfare is constantly maximised. The guidelines are visual and use photographs/drawings and simple texts to help all operators decide on the suitability of pigs for transport. Ensuring a high level of welfare of animals during transport is in everyone’s interest.

Transporting animals that are unfit not only causes animal suffering but could also lead to penalties, financial losses and the withdrawal of the authorisation of the transporter and/or the driver as well. Whilst the guidelines’ primary aim is to ensure a high level of animal welfare, they also can be useful to better protect the health and safety of anyone involved in the transport process. The guidelines are currently available in English, with Dutch, French, German, Italian, Polish, Romanian and Spanish versions available in the next few months. 

If you are a professional involved in the transport of pigs (producer, veterinarian, transporter, etc.), you can request a copy through the FVE website via

For free download you can go under the FVE restricted website

FVE (Federation of Veterinarians of Europe)

Copa and Cogeca (European farmers and European agri-cooperatives)

UECBV (European Livestock and Meat Trades Union)

Eurogroup for animals (European organisation on animal welfare)

Animals’ Angels (international organisation on animal welfare)

IRU (International Road Transport Union)

ELT (European Livestock Transporters)

INAPORC (l’interprofession nationale porcine – France)

Cooperl Arc Atlantique- 


The return of the wolf: a Conference in the EU Parliament

From a thorough identification of the challenges rising from the Human-Wolf relationship to a difficult definition of suitable and sustainable solutions.

A conference entitled “the Return of the Wolf to the European Landscape: Challenges and Solutions” was organised by the Intergroup for the biodiversity, hunting and countryside in the European Parliament yesterday.

During the latter, main concerns and issues linked to the wolves populations presence and development within the EU were raised. In particular, and as suggested in the title of the conference, emphasis has been laid on problems encountered by EU regions faced with the return of wolves decades, if not centuries, after their eradication by Human Beings.

At this stage, it is important to insist on the fact that, contrary to a common belief, wolves returned to their former territories most of the time on their own and no volontary reintroduction of the species was involved. Wolves used to be a natural big carnivore in Europe, endemic to some specific regions.

The whole panel seemed to agree on what the core challenges consisted in. First of all, it has been consistently acknowledged that wolves suffer from a low social acceptance, especially compared to other big carnivores in Europe. Several reasons account for this. From an historic perspective, wolves were always depicted as pests. This perception hasn't shifted for an important range of the European citizens. It has even been fed by media's focuses on information, sometimes inaccurate, leading to an emotional response of the population instead of rising its acute awareness (e. g. showing an adolescent pretending, without concrete proof, he was attacked by a wolves pack).

The increase of close-contacts between wolves and humans (e. g. 77 wolves closer than 25 meters from human beings were reported in Germany last year) make the Wolf more visible and is also a source of fear among people, even though the risk of an attack is assessed as very low.

The return of the Wolf also generates troubles with both farmers and hunters, respectively because of livestocks and hunting preys depredation, which, according to them, gives rise to a considerable loss of income for some of these professionals (which are actually most of the time compensated through States subsidies). It is very unfortunate that some hunters do not only fear for their preys but also sometimes encourage the wolf spreading in order to be able to hunt them in a near future, as suggested by a participant.

In the specific case of farmers, the return of the wolves in areas where they had disappeared for a while has posed difficulties since their infrastructures or farming methods are not adapted to wolf's depredation anymore. On the other side, this commonly spread scare and lack of adaptation don't always reach areas which have been continuously Wolf territories. There, Wolves and Humans have always been sharing lands and inhabitants have adapted their lives and infrastructures in order to prevent damages from wolves. Henceforth, the coexistence of wolves and locals is peaceful and the acceptance of the wolves much higher.

In the end, all of these combined factors have resulted in a more systematic culling policy from the public institutions (most of the time through a mean of derogation to the Birds and Habitats Directive) and in an escalation of illegal killing of wolves, leading sometimes to the decrease of a population under the favourable conservation status level (e. g. in Finland).

But there are not only opponents to the Wolf's return, fierce defenders of its cause are also numerous. For instance, in Germany where the Wolf has returned for more than a decade now and its population increasing significantly every year (around 30%), a Nature And Biodiversity Union (hereafter NABU) survey has highlighted that nearly 80% of the overall population welcomed this return, when merely 17% opposed it.

However, a lack of communication, knowledge and understanding resulted in conflicts, sometimes violent,  between pro- and contra-Wolves.

The Challenges being defined, Solutions were equally to be discussed. Consensus was reached on two points. First of all, there need to be more scientifically-evidenced-based decisions alongside with dissemination of these information amongst the population. The public policy-makers decisions as well as the public opinion should not originate from spontaneous emotional reaction mostly drawn by the media. Solid scientific data, as a panelist suggested, are the core clue for understanding the Wolves behaviours, reassuring the population as well as finding suitable solutions to tackle the problems that have arisen.

Then, a real dialogue should be established between the several stakeholders (namely public institutions, hunters, farmers and representatives of environment, biodiversity or animal welfare organisations) in order to think and find out compromised solutions. In this particular regard, the European Commission has created in 2014 a platform on coexistence between People and Large carnivores. This incentive should be rewarded though it is deplorable that COPA COGECA, the main representative committee for farmers at the EU level, has left the table (for unknown reasons). It is all the more unfortunate that their core solutions' proposal during the conference was actually to set up a genuine dialogue between all stakeholders.

Regarding solutions proposed to the concerns here-above mentioned, wolves culling was sadly presented as a viable remedy by a large range of both the panel and the participants. Unfortunately, other means of regulation and resolution of the Human-wolf conflict (e. g. through compensation, a  Catch-Neuter-Release policy or prevention measures) were barely mentioned through the interventions and debates, if at all.

According to Four Paws, solutions for this conflict were mostly to be found amongst these measures, and not through massive wolves culling. A long term and holistic approach should indeed be developed. For instance, it is undeniable than in some areas Wolves attack livestocks because their prey base has become too narrow or the amount of preys available too scarce, due to Human activities (urban expansion, excessive hunting). To this regard, human activities should also been treated as a factor of wolves behaviours towards livestock and the prey base should be therefore improved. This is one of the key actions for large carnivores (more specifically concerning the Carpathian Wolf population) that the European Commission has launched this year.

Wolves culling has never been proved as a viable solution and do not prevent from more damages in years following the culling (see: Alberto Fernandez-Gil, “management and conservation of wolves in Asturias, NW Spain: is population control justified for handling damage-related conflicts” (see Carnivore Damage Prevention news, n°10, spring 2014, p10-14).

More on the event on:


EP ENVI and AGRI committees voted against cloning of animals kept for farming purposes

The environment and agriculture committees voted on 17.06.2015 on amendments to a European Commission proposal to ban the cloning of farm animals in the EU. The ENVI and AGRI Committees adopted Renate Sommer’s (EPP, DE) and Giulia Moi’s (EFDD, IT) joint report on the file “Cloning of animals of the bovine, porcine, ovine, caprine and equine species kept and reproduced for farming purposes” with 82 votes in favour, 8 against and 8 abstentions

More on and


Stop Vivisection European Citizens’ Initiative on the repeal of Directive on laboratory animals

update: the EU Commission will answer on 3.06.2015 on the follow up (or not) of the ECI

MEPs from Parliament's Agriculture, Public Health, Research and Petitions committees discussed with the European Citizens’ Initiative's (ECI) supporters and experts, which calls for the repeal of Directive 2010/63 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes in order to cease animal experimentation.

On Monday, 11th May 2015, Members of four Parliament's committees then discussed with organisers of the ECI, Mr Tamino, Mr Reiss and Mr André Ménache, as well as with experts in the field, Mr Ray Greek of Americans for Medical Advancement (AFMA), the 2008 Nobel prize laureate of Medicine or Physiology Ms Françoise Barré-Sinoussi and Ms Emily McIvor from Humane Society International, the pros and cons of the call by the ECI petitioners to repeal of the Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes and thus stop animal experimentation.

The debate got quickly heated, as the positions varied especially on the suitability of animals as models for humans. Mr Greek, in particular, questioned the predictive value of animals for humans, and stated that there is no correspondence between their respective reactions in relation to bioavailability, toxicity nor drugs.

However, according to Ms Barré-Sinoussi, current technologies of in-vitro tests cannot reproduce all the interactions between tissues and organs, nevertheless the Nobel Prize winner called for the EU to invest more in the alternatives to animal testing in the future.

Mr Falkenberg, Director General of DG ENV of the European Commission recalled the EU regulatory framework, and quoted art. 4 of Directive 2010/63, which sets the Principle of replacement, reduction and refinement. Such principle imposes Member States to ensure that alternatives are used instead of animals, whenever they are appropriate: “Member States shall ensure that, wherever possible, a scientifically satisfactory method or testing strategy, not entailing the use of live animals, shall be used instead of a procedure” (art. 4(1) Directive 2010/63), where “procedure” indicates an animal testing method.

Now the European Commission has three months to  analyse the initiative decide how to act upon it.


Background: ECI

The European Citizens' Initiative allows 1 million citizens from at least a quarter of EU member states (7 out of 28) to ask the European Commission to propose legislation in areas that fall within its competence. Organisers of successful initiatives are invited to present their initiative at a public hearing in the European Parliament, before the legislative committee responsible for the subject matter.

 "Stop Vivisection" was the third ECI hearing organised by the Parliament. The two ECI hearings that took place in the Parliament in the past were "Right2Water" (17 February 2014) and "One of us".

The organisers have gathered 1,173,130 signatures calling on the Commission to abrogate the Directive (2010/63/EU) on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes and put forward a new proposal aimed at phasing out the practice of animal experimentation.

Organisers of successful initiatives are invited to take part in a hearing at the European Parliament. The European Commission then has three months to examine the initiative and decide how to act upon it. 


Update: Wild? Me? Campaign: the EU Commission answered our letter

At the demand of Mr Miko, Director General of EU Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) and for reasons of transparency, VIER PFOTEN publishes Mr Miko’s answer to our letter of 3 February 2015 as well as the mentioned letter

Despite the deepest respect we have for Mr Miko, VIER PFOTEN disagrees with the interpretation that the distinction between animals which are kept by humans and animals that are not under human control is coherent. Though it is true that this definition covers all animals, there is no need to divide species in two groups, merging in both groups companion and wild animals. We believe that such merging will complicate the enforcement of this law for both veterinarians and lawyers and is not clear for European citizens. This can lead, even not intentionally, to a reduction of the welfare and protection for stray animals, for which “other rules can be applied” (the same as for wild animals such as wild boars, such as massive hunting and killing) as they are not under human control. We believe that the European Commission shall prevent that such event appears!

This is why VIER PFOTEN calls again on the honourable Members of the European Commission, Parliament and Council, in the context of the trilogue, to opt for a definition which does not define homeless cats and dogs as wild animals.

 *We will publish any further communication if the Commission desires so.


Please find here the letter we adressed to Mr Miko: Letter sent 

and here the official answer we received from Mr Miko: Letter received


Wild ? Me ? Campaign: FOUR PAWS starts an online protest

FOUR PAWS is protesting against the latest Animal Health Law, drafted by the European Commission, which plans to classify domestic animals that are not owned or kept by humans, such as stray dogs and cats, as wild animals, while at the same time not classifying owned animals such as lions and elephants in circuses or zoos, as wild.

Wild animals, presently hunted and shot all over Europe, have a lower level of protection than domestic and companion animals. Defining stray cats and dogs as wild animals could, in some situations, offer legal grounds for allowing hunters to shoot at them, as has already been proposed in the past in various European countries. Moreover, questioning the basic biological distinctions of the animals for practical reasons will lead to legal uncertainty, which could lead to animal welfare issues.

Please, help us fight this inappropriate definition!

Following a strong protest by FOUR PAWS, the European Parliament has voted against this definition. On February 5, this definition within the Animal Health Law will be discussed by the European Commission, the Council, representing the Member States and the European Parliament! There’s still a chance for us to prevent from this highly problematic definition.


Join the protest on


102 million of unduly spent Euros by Greece, Ireland and Slovenia will have to be reimbursed to the EU

A total of €102 million of EU agricultural policy funds, unduly spent by Member States, is being claimed back by the European Commission from Greece, Ireland and Slovenia under the so-called clearance of accounts procedure. This money returns to the EU budget because of non-compliance with EU rules or inadequate control procedures on agricultural expenditure. Member States are responsible for paying out and checking expenditure under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and the Commission is required to ensure that Member States have made correct use of the funds.

Official press release: